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The Cycle

News/Business. Politics, the economy, media, sports and any other issues that grab people's attention. New.

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Us 14, America 9, Romney 9, Libya 7, John Kerry 4, Steve 4, Jimmy Carter 4, Washington 4, United States 4, Afghanistan 3, Obama 3, Kerry 3, Paul 3, Gadhafi 3, Christopher 2, Mr. Nixon 2, U.s. 2, California 2, Michigan 2, Hollywood 2,
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  MSNBC    The Cycle    News/Business. Politics, the economy, media, sports  
   and any other issues that grab people's attention. New.  

    October 1, 2012
    12:00 - 1:00pm PDT  

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after months of primaries, spending, rallies, ads, gaffes and campaign restarts and rerestarts, we finally get to the presidential debates. the political equivalent of fight club except the first rule of this fight club you do talk about fight club and you say nice things. saw this tweet recently -- the first debate is wednesday night in denver. mitt romney in the mile high city tonight for a predebate rally. surrogate chris christie set expectations mile high claiming wednesday night is yet another restart of the romney campaign. >> governor romney's going to lay out his vision for a better and greater america for greater opportunity for all of our citizens and i think that's when you're going it see this race really start to tighten and then
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move in governor romney's direction. come thursday morning the narrative of this race is going to change. >> romney has been preparing with senator rob portman who filled in as obama during john mccain's 2008 prep. the president practicing with jor kerry playing the role of romney. kerry is a good fit since the parallels between his '04 and current one is overwhelming. can romney get the post-debate bounce kerry did in '04 and take it one step further and turn it into something kerry couldn't do eight years ago. in '04 president bush had a six-point lead before the debates but kerry's performance boosted him tying the men for the final debate but it was senator kerry in december '04 and not president elect kerry. the national polls are close her today than eight years ago but the numbers in key battlegrounds today tell an obama victory story. democratic strategist steve el mendorf, kerry's deputy campaign
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manager in '04. how are you? >> good, how are you. >> tell me about why your guy won the debates and lost the election and what that says potentially about this dynamic and this race right now is this. >> i think any challenger has a benefit when they get up on the stage against the president of the united states. the debates level the playing field. they put you on the stage in an equal footing. i think mitt romney comes into the debate with an advantage because of that. i think the question in this race, all campaigns are different and i think in this race, this is very much of a choice election. i think people see very different visions for the future between these two candidates and my guess is, when we get out of the debates they are going to continue to see the two visions and right now they're picking barack obama's vision. i think in 2004, it was more of a referendum on bush and i think ultimately people decided that the referendum they wanteded to stay with the incumbent. i think this election is a little different. >> i'm not sure you got to the
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meat of my question, why your guy won the debates but lost eat lex. >> well, again, i think he won the debates because when standing on the stage with the president of the united states and you give a decent performance you're going to -- the media thinks you did pretty well. again, i think romney, you know, has pretty good expectations for this debate. he can do well by standing on the stage against barack obama. but at the end of the day, you're going to have three debates but still have a lot of other things happening in the campaign and obama has a structural advantage in this race. he's been ahead and romney's got to try and catch up with him and i don't think the debates will do it for him. >> a take us if you will, behind the curtain, in the kerry campaign at this point, you were down about six points nationally which is roughly the margin where mitt romney finds himself down at this point. what's the mood inside the campaign? does it become hard to keep your spirits up? is there a danger of having sort of a gloomy mood per vads the campaign itself? >> that's always a danger and i
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think one of the great things that the obama campaign had four years ago is they didn't pay a lot of attention to all of this. they weren't watching all of these cable news shows and paying attention to the chattering class. the romney campaign is being buried by the media, not just the liberal media, but every media. look at all the polls it's not just "the washington post" and "new york times" polls, it's the fox polls, everything says this guy is going to lose. and if you're inside the campaign you got to just let all that clutter get out of your head and you have to not listen to it. you have to look at the fundamentals which are this is going to be a close election. obama has an advantage but at the end of the day the country is pretty evenly divided. >> folks on both sides of the aisle have talked about some of the challenges obama will have in the debates. hugh hewitt has a piece out in which he talks about one of obama's debate tales which is feigned outrage that someone would dare to interrupt him. he says when this happens, his coun ten nance displays a
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disapprovinger. >> and voice clouds with displeasure, it is practiced and profoundly anti-democratic and arrogant. if he plays this card on this stage it will backfire. if kerry is filling in for romney against this debate, you know, against obama in debate prep, is he preparing him for more than just substance? is he also preparing him for these stylistic what-ifs? these moments where obama could be pulled in one direction or the other and trying to sort of hedge against that? >> well, i think the biggest disadvantage obama has right now is practice. mitt romney's had a lot of debates. he went through a long primary practice where he got beat up a lot and got to beat up other people. barack obama had no primary process and has not been in a debate since his debates in the last election. so i think he's got -- he's not in fighting shape is my guess and all these practices he's doing, are to get him in the fighting shape. hopefully they have enough time to do it and hopefully he has a sparring opponent in john kerry who is not pulling any punches,
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not being as respectful to him as his staff might be and showing him that mitt romney is going to get on the stage knowing this is probably his last chance and he's going to be very aggressive in taking on obama. >> steve, thank you very much for your time. >> good to be here. >> steve, what do you think about this idea that debates don't usually change the race entirely all by themselves, but they confirm the narrative that has already been going on in the country? >> well, they can confirm the narrative but we keep coming back to this 2004 example and i think there really was something to what happened there. you can go back and read and i did this morning, go back and read the news accounts from the week leading up to the kerry/bush debate and word for word hear the same thing, same tone, the lead in the major newspaper articles was about it's do or die for john kerry, democrats starting to panic, last moment to change the narrative of the race. i think it's more than just he was evenly matched with the president of the united states. people said wow, the challenger has stature now. i think kerry clearly beat bush
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in that first debate. >> sure? >> in 2004. bush i don't think was really prepared for it. bush didn't appreciate what he was up against and kerry is truly a skilled debater and that really came through in that debate. what happened after that was it wasn't just that kerry won the debate, it was the media set this up, teed it up for kerry, in the political media at the end of the day a certain segment wants a close competitive race and they had it. they had the moment, the game changer to use the cliches and began telling people we got a close race, we got a fight now and there's momentum generated from the coverage afterwards. >> one thing, one place i think that analogy breaks apart a little bit, as you said, john kerry is a very skilled debater and i think mitt romney is a good debater but i think john kerry has a higher level of skill and also had more fleshed out policy details so when he was pushed on those, he was able to fire back. and also i would put president obama in the slightly higher category of debate performance than george w. bush. >> slightly. >> slightly.
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so i agree with you. i think that there's a lot of folks in the media that want to come out on thursday morning and say, mitt romney won this debate. he's back in the game. the race is close. let's see what happens in the polls. i just have a hard time seeing mitt romney really being able to deliver the goods that he hasn't been able to deliver for six years now running for president. >> when you talk to people, you know who are strategists and inside the campaigns, is it really possible for people to block out the noise and not pay attention to the media and not be aware like you're losing by three, four, five points and things are getting dire, doesn't that sort of impact the campaign? we're losing. it's not going our way. >> it does. i think ordinarily. but i have not seen a campaign like this one which has an extraordinary ability to block out what the media is saying. we've talked before about the romney campaign being very closed to media. being very disciplined. doing things their way. we all sometimes question it. and some of us more loudly than others. and they seem to stay on their
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own trajectory. >> didn't the libya sort of let's call it a gaffe, maybe agree on that, isn't that a response to like they're saying all this bad stuff, i didn't talk about afghanistan, wasn't strong enough at the convention, now i have to do something? >> i don't know that was so much a response to the media as it was, an opportunity they wanted to seize on. i don't think they did it right. but it was an opportunity they wanted to seize on. they were probably waiting for that opportunity to come for weeks and it happened to come then and they jumped on it. >> and i would say that's right. it's less of a jumping on the particular media narrative and more of looking for any opportunity of the president making any sort of misstep that they can jump on. they have changed directions, they went with the welfare ads for a while and then jumped on you didn't build that full force, the -- any minor gaffe or misstatement that comes up they are more than willing to jump on. >> we know what to look for in the debates the romney campaign telegraphing this over the weekend, he's been working on
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zingers. one of the patented mitt zingers. >> i'm excited for that. >> zingers sounds so presidential. romney thinking about launching his own offensive on the president's foreign policy. what's stock him? that's what's in the spin for "the cycle" as it rolls on this monday, october 1. [ "human" by the human league playing ] humans. we mean well, but we're imperfect creatures living in a beautifully imperfect world. it's amazing we've made it this far. maybe it's because when one of us messes up, someone else comes along to help out. that's the thing about humans. when things are at their worst, we're at our best. see how at libertymutual.com. liberty mutual insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy?
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mitt romney is reportedly planning a major foreign policy speech after the first debate. doesn't look like he'll be aggressively attacking president obama's handling of the libya attack and apparently romney
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advisors aren't happy about that. there's a split within the campaign team, some aides argue the libya story is a political gift to paint the white house as incompetent. others argue it's a mistake to run on foreign policy when they could be talking about what matters most to average americans, the economy. let's run this through the spin cycle. i think this is a double-edge sword. on the one hand, this election is about the economy. and regardless of how tempting foreign policy is right now, come election day, voters care most about the economy. that's true i think every year. we know this from 2004. which was supposed to be an election on foreign policy and still exit polls showed most voters cared about the economy. so i think the advisors who want him to stay on message about the economy are right. however, the other side to this, and i guess i'm arguing two points here, the other side to this is, there are areas to exploit. obama's foreign policy has been
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whitewashed by his defenders and i think there are people on the right in the middle and honest people on the left who would be outraged to hear a little bit more about obama's failed promises. the problem mitt romney is going to have, he has to come at foreign policy from the left and right. that's tricky. from the right, he needs to talk about obama's policy of open hands versus clenched fists, have seen deterioration with relationships with russia, iran, syria, soft diplomacy has not restored our image in the world and it was probably a fool's errand to begin with. from the left, he needs to remind liberals why they fell in love with obama in the first place. a guy who promised transparency, due process, and yes, soft diplomacy. now we're in libya illegally some have argued, our drone policy has sovereign implications, assassinated american citizens, invoked the espionage act, we've leaked
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national security -- i mean a lot of reasons why liberals hated bush. if they were honest with themselves, they would talk about this administration as well. so it's tricky for any republican to talk about these liberal criticisms and look genuine, but that's what i would advice romney to do. not a chest thumping pro america hawkish foreign policy speech but rightly pointing out the broken promises where he's failed us on the right and where he's let you down on the left. >> well, i agree with a lot of what you just said there and i think we could be having and we should be having a really vibrant debate in this campaign about foreign policy. issues that stick out to me are drones. extra judicial killings, the kill list that obama presides over to claim the right to preside over that as the president. afghanistan, the strategy in afghanistan, the results -- i think there's a lot that we could and should be debating. you're right. look at the political spectrum
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and say some comes from the left and there is plenty of criticism on the left, i would admit look and him and say he's our president and stand by him now. the president is this, mitt romney has nothing to say on foreign policy. he literally has nothing to say. the entire romney strategy on foreign policy, it's basically an extension of what he's had to offer on domestic policy, on domestic policy the romney campaign is built around we're counting on the economy being bad, voters want to fire the president, here's the statistic that's terrible vote out the president. they are applying that, they have applied that to foreign policy. never bothered to sit down and lay out a comprehensive and coherent foreign policy vision. what he's done, the krilts sism of obama he reacts to event bs, what romney does is react to obama's reaction to events. whatever obama's posture is he tries to maneuver into a position to say obama is weak, obama is jimmy carter about because when you're the
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republican it's 1979 the democratic president is always jimmy carter. the perfect example how he handled libya. when the libya thing started a year and a half ago, the first response from mitt romney, when obama agreed to the mission, the first response from mitt romney was, too late, and this isn't enough. he criticized him. weaknessp. he wouldn't address it. ducking reporters. then he starts warning couple months later, this mission, this is too broad. now mission creep. we're losing sight of what we need to be doing. he even starts suggesting do we even know if it's a good idea to be taking gadhafi out. then gadhafi is out. gadhafi's gone. then romney says you know what, the world celebrates the ouster. he's just constantly changing and constantly shifting and responding to where obama is. trying to create this character of obama as the weak jimmy carter guy. i think at the end -- you just don't have anything to say. there's a great debate we could be having. romney will not be the one to have that debate. >> we go back to what teddy
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kennedy said, not pro choice, anti-choice, he's multiple choice. as you said, every election is about the economy, and every day that romney spends not talking about that is a day lost. obama in particular is extremely strong on national security. so attacking him on that is not going to be a winner. now he may be forced to do that because the 47% video has broken through in a major way and has damaged his ability to talk about the economy. but i mean like this attack on libya is a bit strange to me, are we saying that the administration is lying? >> yes. >> are we saying that the administration is incompetence? >> yes. >> intelligence community screwed the administration up. >> all of the above. >> these are not narratives that are not going to work that fit with the narrative that we've had for years that obama is strong. >> can i grant you that and ask, what about the debate? a debate on foreign policy that will bring these issues into the forefront. >> i would love to see obama who really knows these issues from a firsthand fingerprints on the
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documents way, versus romney who has been multiple choice and really has no foreign policy background at all. >> as you were saying at the beginning, s.e., a case to be made for going into either of these directions, either embracing the foreign policy criticism, going at it hard, trying to use that as a broader frame to say the president is ineffective, or sticking with the economy. i think either decision has a rationale behind it. what struck me as you have, mitt romney today with an op-ed in the "wall street journal" going to give this foreign policy speech next week as the same time the campaign is saying they're not going to change their day to day message. you have them basically not really making a decision between either of those two courses. i think it comes back to this inability to decide whether they're going to try to play to the base or center. to me the foreign policy criticism even though you're right, there are things from the left that could be criticized, this fits in more with the frame that the base embraces about obama leading from behind. it's something they believe about him and that would go very
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well with the base. the broad general center of the electorate, they don't think this about the president. it doesn't fit with their framing. i wanted to play an ad that the rnc ran back in july, that i thought was very effective messaging that the romney campaign should have stuck with. let's take a look at that. >> what did we get? national debt over $15 trillion and climbing. unemployment above 8% for 40 straight months. ongoing economic crisis with no end in sight. he tried. you tried. it's okay to make a change. >> so i think this is very effective messaging to the center that he tried, you tried, it's okay to make a change. it recognizes the fact that a lot of americans really like this president and are proud of the role that they had in electing him in the historical role they played in electing the first african-american president. if he had stuck with that all the way through, you could see how a foreign policy criticism as you laid out, saying we had
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this opening to make a historic transformation in the world, be he tried, you tried, it's okay to change, you can see how that could have been a theme that could have worked but because they were unable to make a clear decision, now here we are, a month before election day, and they have no idea where to go. >> well, yeah. the debates are certainly going to center some of these arguments up and put romney on the spot for a lot of it. all right. up next, do we vote for the person with the best policy or just the best campaign? in the guess spot a man that's examined more than 50 years of research tells us how campaigns do and don't matter. proof even serious political junkies like us can have fun. hey, roger, simon, this is monday afternoon satire on tape. >> i heard that at the debate, they're going to ask the candidates questions and the candidates are then going to respond to those questions. >> i think -- that's the traditional format. i don't know. i don't know if they're going to stick to the traditional debate format. >> we'll have to wait and see.
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>> it would be important what they say. >> what they say is going to be sort of the overarcing theme of this debate. what they say will be incredibly important. >> will they -- >> that will be the most important thing and the tone that they use as they speak. >> right. and how they look and do they double down or walk it back? >> right. >> people will be watching for the doubling down, walking back. >> or walking back. >> and game change moments. >> guys, ultimately, we're not going to know untilt the exit polls on election. even after the debate, after you hear the questions, and the responses, the doubling down and the walking back, we still won't know until voters go and pull the lever for their preferred candidate. >> and then tell the people outside what they did. >> that's what -- >> and why they did it. we won't know why they voted for who they voted for until they tell us. until they vote and then tell
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us. >> and they're going to. >> we'll be watching that. >> they'll count it up state by state. the state matters. >> i feel like it's going to be really interesting. >> state by state. ♪ [ male announcer ] jill and her mouth have lived a great life. but she has some dental issues she's not happy about. so i introduced jill to crest pro-health for life. selected for people over 50. pro-health for life is a toothpaste that defends against tender, inflamed gums, sensitivity and weak enamel. conditions people over 50 experience. crest pro-health for life. so jill can keep living the good life. crest. life opens up when you do.
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the candidates need no introduction. the republican candidate vice president richard m. nixon and the democratic candidate senator john f. kennedy. >> i think mr. nixon is an effective leader of his party. i would hope he would grant me the same. the question before us is, which point of view and which party do we want to lead the united states? >> mr. nixon, would you like to comment on that statement? >> i have no comment. >> the sweat pooling onyxen's chin while kennedy is over there cold chillin'. was the presidential race decided right there because of heavy perspiration on the vice presidential mug? can you see who won the first televised presidential debate with the sound off or is that an
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oversimplification of a slew of factor sfls do campaigns matter or does the man with the best platform for that moment in history actually win? our next guest studied the last six decades of campaignsin exploring thorg. how campaigns do and do not matter. christopher, how are you? >> great. >> i'm of the school that campaigns do matter. that you have to present your ideas and present your candidate in an effective way that coke is not better than pepsi they market it and distribute it better and hence that's a metaphor for what we're doing here in the presidential campaign. do you think that campaigns matter in the way that we present people makes a difference? do we ever see somebody who runs -- a demonstratively worse campaign win? >> well, there's two questions there. i think the answer to the last question is or the second question is we occasionally see
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that, but it's rare. what we find in the book is studying thousands of polls is that campaigns tend to be -- the election outcomes tend to be predictable and what campaigns do is largely deliver theeg predictable things, these expected things, such as the economy, the positions the candidates take, and the like. they don't happen magically and that's how campaigns matter. >> who is the person who ran a demonstrably worse campaign and won? >> a demonstrably worse campaign and won. you said that happens sometimes so where is an example of that? >> i'm sorry. i misunderstood the question. where campaigns matter, ran a demonstrably -- here's what i would say. the problem is, determining what a good campaign and bad campaign is, what we typically do, what we find is that -- what -- just because somebody loses doesn't mean the candidate loses doesn't mean they ran a bad campaign.
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just because a candidate won doesn't mean they ran a good campaign. >> the discussion is, do campaigns matter, when is an example of somebody who ran a worse campaign and won? >> well, the problem is, how do you determine what a worse campaign is? what we tend to find is it's very rare where candidates who have an advantage lose. so, for instance, in this election year it looks like the president has a slight advantage, not a great advantage, but a slight advantage and what we expect to happen is the president to take his advantage and win. now, whether he takes the advantage or not effectively is what the campaign, what the election is about. the economy and the policy positions don't matter magically. >> christopher, let's go to polls. pew has a new report out today not on obama or romney but on public opinion surveys. and the response rate has gone from 36% in 1997 down to 9% in
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2012. >> right. >> contact rate is down from 90 to 62%. cooperation rate down 43 to 14%. what is the best way to determine today, to gauge how well either of the candidates are doing when the numbers are so poor? >> well, yeah. the response rates have been an ongoing problem. to a large extent, survey organizations and pollsters spent a lot of time trying to deal with that and have done an effective job as far as we can -- at least on average. as you know, the results of different polling organizations differ quite a lot. some are producing numbers that make the race look closer than others and others show a substantial almost double-digit lead. what polling organizations do makes a difference, yes. what you want to do is sort of look at what the average looks like. that gives you some sense. maybe not the best way to do it but gives you a better sense than looking at any one particular polling organization. >> thank you very much. good luck with the book. >> thank you.
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>> steve, what do you think, when has it happened that somebody runs, once again, a demonstrably worse campaign and wins the presidency? >> yeah. i thought that was a great question. i would love to have the answer. >> i think my dodge is al gore ran the worst campaign in 2000 and won the election. that's how i'll -- >> oh. >> that's how i get through that one. >> iced. >> what chris was getting at there talking about the advantage that he says obama has and how he expects obama to win a slight advantage, i don't think this is something people necessarily appreciate and something that's only, you know, kind of become clear in the last few weeks. >> you've talked about that. obama is actually in the better position to be winning. >> should be winning, counter intuitive when unemployment is stuck over 8%. >> what do you mean? >> we have so few presidential elections in the modern era, once every four years, there's not a lot of data. what you find is like look at 1980 with jimmy carter losing, incumbent president, 1992,
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george bush losing, after one term. you had basically the economy was going in the wrong -- it was not growing. it has been growing under obama. it's not explosive growth like ronald reagan had in 1984, able to win 49 states, but it's been slowly growing. you have that and you have another thing that political scientists kind of found there seems to be an advantage the less time your party has been in the white house, the more -- so bush sr. in '92 that's 12 years of republican rule. people are itching for change at that point. four years coming in off what obama inherited is a different situation. >> you know, one thing i would say is that the presidential level and at the gubernatorial level and the senatorial level, people are paying a lot more attention. there's a lot more money involved, seeing the ads, following the debates. when you get further -- at that level i would say the campaigns do matter. romney coming out and making his comments about the 47%, that had an impact. >> huge. >> it had a huge impact. i would say the obama campaign has been very skilled in the way that they framed romney early
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and also in framing this election in general as not just about the economy, but about the future of the middle class. i would argue as you get further down the ballot, campaigns matter less and less. you are more subject to the national wins because voters just aren't paying as much attention. >> and the amount of -- >> to the campaign you're running. >> the amount of money can sway the race more easily? >> that's exactly right. and as an example i would -- in 2010, republican wave across the country. but you saw an even more dramatic wave in states where there weren't gubernatorial or senate candidates who could distinguish from the overall national trend. >> spoken like somebody who is -- >> one of the states where there was not anyone running statewide at the top of the ticket and won with the greatest losses for democrats. >> steve, just real quick, okay, let's say obama wins. i think, i predict people will still call it historic. >> oh -- >> that he overcame the economic climate. >> and not only that, i'm
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interested if that happens in the conservative reaction. sets up not like when they lost to clinton in '96, good economy, you're going to lose this election. if they lose this year, the reaction on the right we're seeing, mitt romney blew the election that should not have been losable for the republican nominee. that's a faulty conclusion. >> i think that's absolutely right and will be the conclusion that we could have won, we should have won and we ran a horrible campaign. all right. straight ahead, the new hollywood film on america's schools, that teachers are giving an "f." [ mother ] you can't leave the table
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till you finish your vegetables. [ clock ticking ] [ male announcer ] there's a better way... v8 v-fusion. vegetable nutrition they need, fruit taste they love. could've had a v8...
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what are you doing? uh. who taught you how to do this stuff? you! all right! i learned it by watching you! [ male announcer ] parents who skim, have kids who skim. kraft macaroni & cheese. you know you love it. a lot of these kids can barely add and we want to be teaching them geometry. >> the problem is that no one expects them to do well so they don't. >> come on. look around. i'm a cop. there's drugs, there's gangs. >> change a school, change a neighborhood. >> you really think you can turn this around? >> i can't say for certain.
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>> 100% yes. >> that is from "won't back down" the movie that opened just this weekend. it's about a mother and a teacher each with children struggling to learn who ban together and take over their failing school. along the way they run into everything from apathetic parents to teacher unions. teachers who give a dam. who wouldn't want to root for that. the feel good flick doesn't have everyone feeling so good. next guest says beneath the sheen of maggie and viola, there's a strong dose of anti-union rhetoric served with your popcorn and cherry coke. joining us now is an drew, the senior writer from salon.com where i work. thanks for joining us. i want to set this up reading, i've said this on twitter the other day, i love when andrew hates a movie, his reviews are so pleasurable to read. this is one line from your review of this movie you said --
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so, you're basically -- your review basically says they are kind of beating you over the head with political content in this movie and doing a bad job of it. can you unpack a little bit? what is the political mess annual and why so flawed in how they presented it. >> you are the political experts. i don't know why the right wing insists on beating up the teacher union year after year. i should maybe come out and say my sister-in-law is a union school teacher in milwaukee so i would be in big trouble if i had written anything different about this movie. but for is some reason and i think the reason is the billionaire christian right wing guy who financed this film, this movie is somewhat cleverly packaged, not all that cleverly packaged, kind of trojan horse which wants to be a stand and deliver you know inspirational message for all americans and is trying to convince you it's the teachers union is responsible for everything wrong with
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american education. >> andrew, the movie focuses on the so-called parent trigger laws which allows parents to sign a petition to essentially take over the school and make dramatic changes if it's failing. that sounds like empowering parents. that doesn't sound like a bad thing. i would say that the notion of allowing parents to take control of a school and have more control over the child's education, doesn't also seem like a fundamentally conservative idea to me. >> it isn't necessarily i suppose a fundamentally conservative idea, the charter school movement and parent trigger law only invoked a couple times is a controversial arena that's full of varying points of view. but, in fact, the company that produced this movie, walden media, which is owned by phil as i said, apparently stands to gabe tremendously from these privatization measures where what you're talking about is a group of parents and teachers,
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voluntarily giving up their union benefits taking over a school and for practical purposes selling it to a private company that will run it from here on out. so, you know, i'm not against charter schools in principle. i think there are a lot of things to talk about there. but when you're talking about this agenda, something very specific is at stake. >> so andrew, this -- the box office numbers are in for the weekend and this thing actually tanked this weekend. it came in tenth place. it made was it $2.7 million. the budget for this i guess was $20 million. so this was -- this is not a success by hollywood standards. it's always tough to tell why it is a movie to fails. but do you think there's connection here where people recognize this was more of a political movie dressed as entertainment? is there a lesson for hollywood about how to do this in the future. >> i think there are probably two lessons to be drawn. one absolutely, i think people -- people might respond also somewhat negatively to a movie that was dressed in a more progressive agenda if it was pretending to be something else. it's the, you know, film, the
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trojan horse film aspect that's troubling here. i think the mo every isn't very good. -- movie isn't very good. even the lifetime channel level that this is aiming for is not entertaining. they seem like to be stuck in this move owe and would like to figure out how to get out of it. >> i objected to this movie without having seen it just based on someone's assertion that it was feel good. i reject that. i also reject this salon cronyism but i'll play along for a minute. when movies try overtly to make a conservative political argument they generally fail. i look at an american carole which was not good, even alice shrug was not good because they were dressed up as art. the same thing can happen on the left. it happens more overtly on the right. what i will say, though, is that when good movies are made, that happen to have conservative
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themes, they generally do pretty well. look at "chronicles of narnia" "passion of the christ" "the blind side." what conservatives need to do is focus more on making good films if they happen to have conservative themes, most of america will like it because the country is center right and hate to break it to you religious. >> i mean andrew let's not overthink this. the first problem with this movie viola davis, great actress, maggie gyllenhaal, interesting actress they can't open a movie. a lot of great movies we've seen that have conservative themes that have been great and done well. go through and list "300," "top gun" "hurt locker" the military theme "dirty harry" "law and order" "saving private ryan." "pursuit of happiness" and the pro life films "juno" and "knocked up." you can make a conservative
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themed film -- >> it has to be a good piece of art. >> right. the problem a lot of times talking about is exactly, and i agree with almost everything just said. there are times when the politics of a film essentially doesn't matter or it can communicate in a lot of different levels, they have to concentrate on craft. most of the time these conservative and christian themed films are just not well made. >> andrew, didn't take any alcoholic birjs or lapses in judgment to get you here today i hope from salon.com we both work there. thanks for joining us. the new list of schools that aren't just good for students but the future of america and for once, harvard is not getting top honors. guest which cyclist alma mater is on the list? not mine. and you learned something along the way. this is the age of knowing what you're made of. so, why let erectile dysfunction get in your way? talk to your doctor about viagra.
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the college edition features a list of best bang for the buck colleges and best colleges for our country. paul, thanks for being back with us. >> pleasure to be here. >> i was looking at this list and one of the things that jumped out is in list 14 of the top 20 are public universities. "u.s. news & world report" has none of their top 20 are public universities. how did you come up with this list? >> well, "u.s. news," their measures are basically how much money you spend on professors, how selective you are, how many kids you don't let in, measures of prestige, reputation, money. ours is based on what colleges do for the buildings of dollars of taxpayer money that we invest. how good are they to the country. we say are they places where low-income kids can get in and graduate? are they places that produce a lot of ph.d.s and research that drive the economy?
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and do they encourage giving back to the country? are there kids going to the paste corps, into americorps? those are the three basic measures, and do they do it for a good price. >> well, you know, on that question of price point, looking at that point about 14 of the top 20 best values being public schools. you know, you have a couple campuses in california, michigan, you have washington, wisconsin. these are sort of generally recognized as the great public research universities in this country, but that value, that question of price, really only applies if you're lucky enough to live in that state. i can think of growing up in massachusetts we had harvard and private schools that were really expensive. we had the university of massachusetts which i love but a lot of people were trying to go out of state to michigan, unc, they're paying a lot more if they're going there. is it much of a value if you're not lucky enough to live in the states. >> if you're going to be paying out of sate tuition, it is a lot of money, but for most of the
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campuses, most of the kids are in state. even for the cost of out of state if you average those costs out and even with the big tuition increases we've seen at places like the university of california system, these places are still a better value than a lot of the private schools. >> paul, how did you factor in the value of networking? a lot of people go to college because of the people they're going to meet and maybe some of those people they're going to end up working with or for. how does that factor into your ratings? >> so we only look at data that's available and that's solid. we don't factor in networking. for a lot of people networking is the whole point. >> right. >> and whether they learn anything or not is of little consequence. look, the problem is u.s. news is they're trying to measure something for which there is no data yet. we don't know how much learning goes on. we don't know yet, although it could be gotten, what people make when they get out, and are they working in their fields. if you had evidence -- if you had data like that, you could
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really do a measure that says which of the schools are really the best. >> all right. well, paul, thanks for that info. >> thank you. >> still ahead, toure looks at the debates and gets all one shining moment on us. wharf that means. eat your heart out, jim nance. [ male announcer ] this is rudy. his morning starts with arthritis pain. and two pills. afternoon's overhaul starts with more pain. more pills. triple checking hydraulics. the evening brings more pain. so, back to more pills. almost done, when... hang on. stan's doctor recommended aleve. it can keep pain away all day with fewer pills than tylenol. this is rudy. who switched to aleve. and two pills for a day free of pain. ♪ and get the all day pain relief of aleve in liquid gels.
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i love election season and i love debates and i hate to be the guy who says you know that tasty chocolate cake we can't wait to eat, it has no nutritious value but sometimes i have to be that guy. my favorite kits mass story is the grinch who stole christmas.
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here i go down your chimney to steal your tree. the debates start on wednesday, and they're supposed to shape the race and determine who will be the leader of the free world but they almost certainly won't be determinative. gallup crunched the numbers and concluded presidential debates are rarely game changer. gallup says only twice in the last 52 years of televised debates has the candidate who went into the first debate behind found himself ahead after the last one. the first time that happened was 1960, kennedy v. nixon. the only other time was 2000, bush v. gore. we all know who won the popular vote in that race but let's not get our blood boiling about that for the millionth time. in the other election the debates did not change the structure of a race. they tended to clarify the course that the race was already
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on. national conditions matter more like, say, the economic meltdown would shape the end of the '08 race though the debates confirmed the growing perception that obama would be up to the job. debates and politics in general are less about persuading people to change yir minds and more about activating feelings people already have and confirming narratives already in motion. by the time the debates have come around, most of us have made up our minds and the debates become a rorschach where you see what you want to see. the debates are fun but less consequential than we recall. they are full of sound and fury signifying a little, but they are an exciting fight clubbish culmination to a year-long political march madness. a long wild tournament where we see all kinds of hi jinxes and wins and losses. they give us that awesome
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montage. ♪ the ball is tipped and there you are ♪ ♪ you're running for your life ♪ your a shooting star ♪ and all the years not one knows ♪ ♪ just how far you went smots ♪ but now it shows ♪ one shining moment it's all on the line ♪ ♪ in one shining moment they're frozen in time ♪ >> enjoy the debates. they are political chocolate cake. all right. that does it for "the cycle." martin, are you ready to eat your chocolate cake? >> i tell you what, that was a great bit of music from luther vandro vandross. with friends like mitt, who needs enemies?